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Perspective, Respect, and the DAT formula for Spiritual Parenting

A crusty old sea captain steered his craft through a raging storm one night as his radar showed another ship directly in his path. “Give way, move aside” he bellowed into the radio. “No, you give way. Adjust your course” came back the reply.

Enraged, the captain radioed “Move! You are directly in my course.” The answer that came back immediately changed his perspective, “I am the lighthouse, you are the one that has to move!”

Perspective is everything. When we see things accurately, and within the bigger picture, when we “get it” and understand what is really happening and why, we can then figure things out and make good choices.

If you were driving along in the dark and could see only the turnings into cross streets and the forks in the road, you would be subject to all kinds of directional mistakes. But if you had your GPS and could see it all from above, adjusting your perspective to a mile, to five miles, to fifty miles, to the whole distance from where you are to where you want to go, you could then make all the right turns along the way.

The Plan of Salvation is the big picture, the big map that shows the destination, and the Restored Gospel is the clearly marked path. THE MAIN THING THAT THE RESTORATION TELLS US ABOUT OUR CHILDREN IS THAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY OUR SPIRITUAL BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO CAME FROM THE SAME PREMORTAL LIFE THAT WE DID.

Knowing this changes the very way we perceive and think about our children! And it reminds us that they are as worthy of our respect as we are of theirs.

When we as LDS parents disrespect our children, we are forgetting that they are our spirit brothers and sisters, and that they have placed unbelievable trust in us by coming, as helpless infants, into our homes and our care, hoping we will guide and teach and lift them toward happy adulthood.

We forgetting that they could just as well be our parents!

Simply remembering and reminding ourselves of this can expand the respect we give them, and ultimately the respect they return to us.

This doesn’t mean we don’t discipline them, or correct them, or have high expectations of them. But it does mean that we try to do each of these things with gentleness, with perspective, with patience, and with respect.

You may not be (hopefully have never been) a blatantly disrespectful parent, one who verbally abuses your child in ugly and profane ways, but if we are not wary, disrespect creeps in through our tone of voice and even through the looks we give our children

The DAT formula:

For solid, conscientious parents who do generally treat their children with respect but who would still like to improve, we recommend “the DAT formula.”

D stands for decibels. Just turn down your volume a little, speak a little more softly, a little more calmly (most parents have learned that decibels are contagious, and that the louder they speak, the louder their children will respond (and vice versa.)

A is for agency. When we give children no choices or input on things we disrespect them as spirits. Of course we have to make most choices for them when they are small, but giving them as many choices as we can, as early as we can (things as simple as what color of juice they want) is not only a great teaching method, but a simple and direct way of respecting them.

T is for tone. Even when our decibels are OK, we often use a tone that is condescending or sarcastic or even mean or arbitrary—a tone we would never use with a friend or other person we respect.

For more (much more) on the spiritual solutions that come as we reflect on what we know about who our children are and where they come from, read the new book by Richard and Linda Eyre, 5 Spiritual Solutions to Everyday Parenting Challenges, now available wherever Deseret Books are sold.


New York Times No. 1 bestselling authors Richard and Linda Eyre are the parents of nine children and, by coincidence, the authors of nine internationally distributed parenting and life-balance books. They lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Their new book, "5 Spiritual Solutions for Everyday Parenting Challenges," is available at Deseret Book stores now.

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